It’s a tradition as old as time — or at least as old as Sue Chipman’s 27-year tenure as part of the Shawnee Mission East boys' tennis team.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
The Lancers added another Sunflower League team championship last Thursday at Harmon Park, collecting 47 points and finishing seven points ahead of runner-up Olathe Northwest.
“We’re always thrilled to win the Sunflower League and represent Shawnee Mission East in fine style,” Chipman said. “People always say, ‘How many is that?’ and I say, ‘I have no clue.’ I don’t have any clue, but I can’t remember when we didn’t win all the way back to when I started helping in 1986-87.”
SM East was as dominant as it has been some years, which is to say that the Lancers didn’t sweep all four brackets.
But SM East did capture both doubles titles, and No. 2 singles player Jeff Larrabee reached the final during a comfortable team victory.
For the most part, Jake Glazer and Jack Santilli cruised at No. 1 doubles, dropping only six games in five total sets, including a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Olathe Northwest’s Dominic Fabiano and Taylor Ficke in the championship match.
The Lancers’ No. 2 doubles pair, Reese Goulding and Jamie McDonald, were even more dominant and lost only two games in three matches. They polished off SM South’s Ben Barnard and Griffin Zeller 6-0, 6-1 in the No. 2 doubles final.
“Both doubles teams are looking pretty strong,” Chipman said. “Honestly, I’m very pleased with them. They’re progressing nicely. We haven’t had the practice time we would have liked to have, but I feel confident with our doubles teams — and Brooks, too — looking to the regional.”
Brooks Kendall, the Lancers' No. 1 singles player, finished third in the No. 1 singles competition.
The No. 1 singles crown went to SM West senior Vinh Pham for the second consecutive season, but it wasn’t easy.
Pham dropped three games in the quarterfinals, needed three sets to top Lawrence’s Thomas Irick in the semifinals and outlasted SM South’s Kevin Kochersberger 6-4, 6-2 in the final.
"He had a bit of a rough go in the semifinals against Thomas Irick from Lawrence, but he always seems to find a way — even when he’s not playing his best — to turn it up," Vikings coach Jed Bair said. "Definitely, in that match, he needed to, because it was a tight one."
Pham, who has signed with UMKC, reached the Sunflower League No. 1 singles championship match all four years, finishing second to SM East graduate Ross Guignon as a freshman and sophomore.
"He’s a really quiet guy, so you don’t really hear him come out to say, ‘I really want to win Sunflower League,’ but I think it was always in the back of his mind that it was his to take," Bair said.
Finally, Olathe Northwest’s Lee Fitchett helped power a runner-up team with a gut-check win in the No. 2 singles final against SM East's Larrabee 6-3, 3-6, 12-10.
Daniel, BV North roll to EKL crown
Reigning Kansas Class 6A singles champion Trey Daniel keeps rolling along.
Daniel, a Blue Valley North senior, won a matchup of state champs rather easily Monday in the East Kansas League singles final. He topped Blue Valley sophomore Anil Patel, a transfer from Lansing who won the Class 5A title last season, 6-1, 6-2 for his second straight league crown.
"Trey has been playing really well and the goal is another state title," Mustangs coach Ann Dark said.
The meet was originally scheduled for Saturday but was postponed because of the weather.
The Mustangs, who finished first as a team with 78 points (14 more than runner-up BV Northwest), also had the doubles champion.
"We knew Blue Valley Northwest would give us a run, because they are so deep this year," Dark said. "I think they had three doubles team earn seeds."
Mitchell Samuelson and Brady Flanagan teamed up to topple BV West’s Tyler Hamedi and Nico Riveros 6-0, 6-1 in the title match.
"Several schools have shuffled up their doubles teams, but I knew they could get first and I was thrilled they won obviously," Dark said.
Jackson Hubble and Rohit Ehagat, who were unseeded, wound up fourth in the doubles bracket.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.